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Friends genealogy

Genealogists are the largest single group of researchers using the Friends records, but they often meet with frustration. One common misconception is that these records are neatly organized and indexed. While William W. Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy provided thorough indexes for the records of many yearly meetings, including New York, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, the New England records have never been completely indexed. In most cases, the only access to information on New England Friends is usually a search of the records, either on microfilm or in the original. Here are some important points to remember for typical genealogical problems.

  1. It is important to know both place and time. If an individual moved around New England, it will be very helpful to sketch out a chronology of their travels.
  2. All vital records are recorded by the Monthly Meeting. You will need to determine which monthly meeting(s) your ancestor belonged to. If there is no monthly meeting named after their town, look it up in the index in the back of this book. Some towns held smaller meetings that were part of a larger nearby monthly meeting.
  3. If your ancestor’s town is not indexed, examine the maps on pages 12 to 14 of this guide. Were there any meetings nearby? Until the age of automobile travel, it is unlikely that many practicing Friends lived more than a few miles away from at least a worship group. Even if they did maintain the “Discipline” of Friends in a distant town, their vital records would probably not be recorded by a Monthly Meeting.
  4. If you are able to determine a probable Monthly Meeting, look at that meeting’s entry in the monthly meeting section. Check for vital records in the listing at the bottom of this entry. Are there any birth, death, marriage or membership records? Removals and denials are also useful (see glossary). Minutes are less useful for genealogy, but sometimes include marriage information, and occasionally memorials to the deceased.
  5. If the records that you want have been microfilmed, this will be indicated in the last column: “Film#”. This is the microfilm number at the Rhode Island Historical Society Library. An asterisk indicates that it can also be found at the Maine Historical Society Library, and a plus sign indicates that it can be ordered from the Family History Centers operated by the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). An @ symbol indicates that the film is available through the Nantucket Historical Association.
  6. If the records have not been microfilmed, you will need to consult the originals, most of which are at UMass Amherst. The location of originals is given in the “Loc.” column. Please note that a complete set of microfilm is available for consultation at the Rhode Island Historical Society.
  7. If you are researching early Friends (pre-Revolutionary), it is likely that you will not discover anything new in the vital records. Friends records have always been a major resource for colonial genealogy, and have been consulted for most of the major reference works that you have already looked at. It is, however, possible to find new information in meeting minutes, to verify membership or residence in a location.

For further information, Our Quaker Ancestors: Finding Them in Quaker Records by Ellen Thomas Berry and David Allen Berry (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1987) is a book-length treatment of general approaches to Quaker genealogy.

Howland family

Howland Family Papers
1727-1886 (Bulk: 1771-1844)
2 boxes (0.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 923

The Howland family of East Greenwich, R.I., figured prominently in New England Quakerism during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and contributed to the state’s public affairs. Brothers Daniel (1754-1834), an approved minister, and Thomas Howland (1764-1845), an educator, were active members of the Society during the tumultuous years between the 1780s and 1840s, caught up in the moral demands for a response to slavery and other social issues and in the divisions wrought by evangelical influences.

Centered largely on the lives of Thomas Howland, his brother Daniel, and Daniel’s son Daniel, the Howland collection is an important record of Quaker life in Rhode Island during trying times. As meeting elders, the Howlands monitored and contributed to the era’s major controversies, and the collection is particularly rich in discussions of the impact of slavery and the passionate struggle between Friends influenced by the evangelically-inclined Joseph John Gurney and the orthodox John Wilbur. Thomas’ complex response to his commitment to the antislavery cause and his fear of disrupting meeting unity is particularly revealing. Also of note is a series of responses from monthly meetings to queries on compliance with Quaker doctrine, obtained during the decade after the American Revolution.

Subjects
  • Antislavery movements--Rhode Island
  • East Greenwich (R.I.)--History
  • Peace movements--Rhode Island
  • Temperance--Rhode Island
Contributors
  • Bassett, William, 1803-1871
  • Brown, Moses, 1738-1836
  • Friends' Boarding School (Providence, R.I.)
  • Gurney, Joseph John, 1788-1847
  • Howland, Daniel
  • Howland, Daniel, 1754-1834
  • Howland, Thomas, 1764-1845
  • Moses Brown School
  • New England Yearly Meeting of Friends
  • Shearman, Abraham, 1777-1847
  • Society of Friends--Controversial literature
  • Society of Friends--History
  • Tobey, Samuel Boyd, 1805-1867
  • Wilbur, John, 1774-1856

Aldrich family

Aldrich Family Papers
1907-1992
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 398

Mark Bartlett Aldrich was employed for many years at the Montague Rod and Reel Co. in Montague City. His grandfather, Eugene Bartlett, was the founder of the firm, which made split-bamboo fishing rods. He owned and operated Aldrich’s New England store from 1948 until selling it in 1962. Aldrich then sold cars for Spenser Brothers Ford in Northfield until he and his wife Edith moved to Florida in 1964.

The collection consists primarily of family records relating to the wedding, anniversaries, and funerals of Edith and Mark Aldrich. The Aldrich Family Papers are organized into three series: Wedding and Anniversaries, Funeral and Legal, and Personal.

Subjects
  • Montague (Mass.)--Social life and customs
Contributors
  • Aldrich family

Anglin family

Anglin Family Papers
1874-1955 (Bulk: 1914-1926)
2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 699
Image of Anglin family and friends, ca.1921
Anglin family and friends, ca.1921

Born in Cork, Ireland to a prosperous family, the Anglin siblings began immigrating to Canada and the United States in 1903. The first to relocate to Canada, brothers Will and Sydney pursued vastly different careers, one as a Presbyterian minister and the other as a salesman at a Toronto slaughterhouse. George and Crawford both served in the military during World War I, the former in the British Infantry as a medical officer and the latter in the 4th University Overseas Company first in France and later in Belgium where he died saving the life of a wounded soldier. Gladys Anglin trained as a nurse, but worked in a Canadian department store and at the Railway Office before suffering a mental breakdown and entering the Ontario Hospital as a patient. Ethel remained in Ireland the longest where she taught Domestic Economics at a technical school. The only Anglin to immigrate to the United States and the only female sibling to marry, Ida and husband David Jackson settled in Monson, Massachusetts where they raised four daughters.

The Anglin siblings were part of a close knit family who stayed in contact despite their geographic separation through their correspondence. Siblings wrote and exchanged lengthy letters that document not only family news, but also news of local and national significance. Topics addressed in their letters include World War I, the Irish revolution, medicine, religious ministry, and domestic issues from the ability of a single woman to support herself through work to child rearing.

Subjects
  • Anglin family--Correspondence
  • Ireland--Emigration and immigration--History
  • Ireland--History--War of Independence, 1919-1921
  • Irish--Canada--History
  • Irish--United States--History
  • World War, 1914-1918

Blanchard Family

Blanchard-Means Family Papers
ca.1770-1970
48 boxes (67 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 830
Image of Abby Blanchard (later Mrs. Oliver W. Means) at Jacquard punching machine, ca.1890
Abby Blanchard (later Mrs. Oliver W. Means) at Jacquard punching machine, ca.1890

The seat of seven generations of the Blanchard and Means families, Elm Hill Farm was established prior to 1797, when the joiner Amasa Blanchard began acquiring property in Brookfield, Mass., as he looked forward to his marriage. The success he enjoyed in farming was a spark for his family’s prosperity. Amasa’s son Albert Cheney Blanchard left Brookfield in the 1830s to pursue commercial opportunities out west as a partner in the Richmond Trading Co., in Richmond, Ind., and by the time he returned home to take over operations after his father’s death in 1857, Albert had earned a fortune. In the years after the Civil War, Elm Hill grew to 1,300 acres crowned by a mansion built in 1870 that became the center of a compound of eight buildings. Each subsequent generation at Elm Hill has left its own distinctive mark. Albert’s son Charles P. Blanchard, a minister and talented amateur photographer, developed a renowned herd of Morgan horses, and Charles’ daughter Abby and her husband, the minister Oliver W. Means, added a herd of Jersey cattle that included a prize-winning bull, Xenia’s Sultan, imported in 1923, and the cow, You’ll Do Lobelia, better known as the original, real-life Elsie the Cow. Abby’s daughter-in-law, Louise Rich Means, laid acres of spectacular gardens on the estate. Following Louise’s death in 2009, Elm Hill left family ownership.

Consisting of nearly two centuries of papers that accumulated on the Elm Hill estate, the Blanchard-Means collection stretches from a handful of documents from the late eighteenth century relating to landholdings and Amasa ‘s work Blanchard as a joiner, to a blossoming of correspondence, photographs, ephemera, and realia dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Well-educated, well-traveled, and well-informed, the Blanchards and Means were prolific letter writers, and their papers provide wonderful insights into the lives of a religiously-devoted family from the New England elite. Among the highlights of the collection are the extensive records from the Richmond Trading Company and from the farm’s livestock and gardening operations (both Morgans and Jerseys) and a remarkable photographic record that document the family, the evolving landscape of Elm Hill, and the town of Brookfield, as well as hundreds of images from C.P. Blanchard’s world tours in the 1890s.

Subjects
  • Agriculture--Massachusetts--Brookfield
  • Asia--Description and travel
  • Brookfield (Mass.)--History
  • Cabinetmakers--Massachusetts--Brookfield
  • Congregational Church--Clergy--Connecticut
  • Congregational Church--Clergy--Massachusetts
  • Europe--Description and travel
  • Jersey cattle--Massachusetts
  • Morgan horse--Massachusetts
  • Yale University--Students
Contributors
  • Richmond Trading Company
Types of material
  • Ephemera
  • Photographs

Burgett-Irey family

Burgett-Irey Family Papers
1832-2010 (Bulk: 1929-2008)
4 boxes (2 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 605

Born in 1908 to Louis and Sarah Kessel Burgett, Katherine grew up on the family farm outside of Oquawka, Illinois. In 1924 her parents purchased their own farm in Monmouth, which they later lost due to the devastating impact of the Depression on agriculture, and it was there that she first met her future husband, Kenneth Monroe Irey, a student at Monmouth College. The newlyweds moved to New Jersey in 1931 where Kenneth was transferred for work. As a chemical engineer, Kenneth enjoyed a successful career and comfortably supported his wife and two children. Retiring in 1970, he and Katherine spent their later years pursuing two passions: traveling and bird-watching. Kenneth and Katherine’s eldest daughter, June Irey Guild, spent most of her adult life in Massachusetts where she has married twice, raised six children, and operated her own business. During her retirement years, June focused on preserving her family’s history by collecting letters and recoding family narratives.

The Burgett-Irey Family Papers chronicle the changes that many twentieth-century American families experienced as the nation descended into an economic depression, entered into a world war, and emerged as one of the most powerful countries in the world. The collection, which will continue to grow, includes approximately 65 letters between Katherine Burgett Irey and her family. Most of the letters exchange family updates, particularly precious after Katherine relocated to New Jersey. Among the earliest letters is an account of Katherine and Kenneth’s first meeting described as “fast work,” since he asked her out on the spot. Also included are autobiographical writings by Kenneth describing his cross-country trip to California in 1927 and a brief history of his life and career.

Subjects
  • Bird watching
  • Burgett family
  • Irey family
  • Marriage--United States
  • Motherhood--United States--History--20th century
  • Mothers--United States--History--20th century
  • Women--United States--History--20th century
Contributors
  • Guild, June Irey
  • Irey, Katherine Burgett
  • Irey, Kenneth Monroe, 1905-1994
Types of material
  • Diaries
  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Slides

Dall Family

Dall Family Correspondence
1810-1843
2 boxes (2 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 282

Chiefly correspondence from various Dall family members in Boston, Massachusetts, particularly father William Dall, Revolutionary War veteran, merchant, businessman and former Yale College writing master, to sons William and James Dall in Baltimore, Maryland. Letters of son James Dall, then a student at Harvard University, provide accounts of Boston political and cultural activities of the time.

The correspondence documents the daily changes in the life of a merchant’s family in the early 19th century, reflecting anxiety over trade restrictions, embargoes, and other economic disruptions resulting from the War of 1812. The elder Dall (William 3rd) and much of his family lived in Boston, but two sons lived in Baltimore. The bulk of the correspondence consists of letters to the younger son, William 4th, who was then apprenticed to a Baltimore merchant. The letters of son James Dall, then a student at Harvard University, provide accounts of Boston political and cultural activities.

Acquired 1989
Subjects
  • Baltimore (Md.)--Biography
  • Baltimore (Md.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Boston (Mass.)--Biography
  • Boston (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
  • Boston (Mass.)--Intellectual life--19th century
  • Boston (Mass.)--Politics and government--19th century
  • Dall family
  • Family--United States--History--19th century
  • Harvard University--Students
  • Merchants--Maryland--Baltimore
  • Merchants--Massachusetts--Boston
Contributors
  • Dall, James, 1781-1863
  • Dall, John Robert, 1798-1851
  • Dall, John, 1791-1852
  • Dall, Joseph, 1801-1840
  • Dall, Maria, 1783-1836
  • Dall, Rebecca Keen
  • Dall, Sarah Keen, 1798-1878
  • Dall, William, 1753-1829
  • Dall, William, 1794 or 5-1875

Hudson Family

Hudson family Papers
1780-1955 (Bulk: 1825-1848)
6 boxes (3 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 332
Image of Three generations: including Erasmus Darwin Hudson Sr. and Jr.
Three generations: including Erasmus Darwin Hudson Sr. and Jr.

Born in Torringford, Connecticut in 1806, and educated at the Torringford Academy and Berkshire Medical College (MD 1827), Erasmus Darwin Hudson became well known as a radical reformer. While establishing his medical practice in Bloomfield, Conn., and later in Springfield, Mass., and New York City, Hudson emerged as a force in the antislavery struggle, hewing to the non-resistant line. Touring the northeastern states as a lecturing agent for the Connecticut Anti-Slavery Society and general agent of the American Anti-Slavery Society, he regularly contributing articles to an antislavery periodicals and befriended many of the movement’s leaders. In his professional life as an orthopedic surgeon, Hudson earned acclaim for his contributions to the development of modern prosthetics. During the carnage of the Civil War, he introduced remarkable improvements in artificial limb technology and innovations in the treatment of amputations and battle trauma, winning awards for his contributions at international expositions in Paris (1867) and Philadelphia (1876). Hudson died of pneumonia on Dec. 31, 1880.

Spanning five generations of a family of physicians and social reformers, the Hudson Family Papers include particularly significant content for Erasmus Darwin Hudson documenting his activities with the Connecticut and American Anti-Slavery societies. Hudson’s journals and writings are accompanied by a rich run of correspondence with antislavery figures such as Abby Kelley, Wendell Phillips, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Isaac Hopper, and Samuel May and a unique antislavery campaign map of New York state and surrounding areas (1841). Hudson’s medical career and that of his son Erasmus Darwin Hudson, Jr. (1843-1887), a thoracic physician, is equally well documented through correspondence, medical notes, and handwritten drafts of lectures, with other material ranging from family records and writings of and other family members to genealogies of the Hudson, Shaw, Clarke, Fowler, and Cooke families, and printed material, memorabilia, clipping and photographs.

Subjects
  • Abolitionists
  • African Americans--History
  • American Anti-slavery Society
  • Antislavery movements--Massachusetts
  • Connecticut Anti-slavery Society
  • Connecticut--History--19th century
  • Massachusetts--History--19th century
  • Physicians--New York
  • United States--History--1783–1865
Contributors
  • Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895
  • Foster, Abby Kelley, 1810-1887
  • Garrison, William Lloyd, 1805-1879
  • Gay, Sydney Howard, 1814-1888
  • Hopper, Isaac T. (Isaac Tatem), 1771-1852
  • Hudson Family
  • Hudson, Daniel Coe, 1774–1840
  • Hudson, Erasmus Darwin, 1806–1880
  • Hudson, Erasmus Darwin, 1843–1887
  • Phillips, Wendell, 1811-1884
  • Smith, Gerrit, 1797-1874
  • Stone, Lucy, 1818-1893
  • Weld, Theodore Dwight, 1803-1895
  • Wright, Henry Clarke, 1797-1870
Types of material
  • Diaries
  • Letters (Correspondence)

Lesinski-Rusin family

Lesinski-Rusin Family Papers
1908-1925
2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 131
Image of Nun and two girls at first communion, ca.1920
Nun and two girls at first communion, ca.1920

Polish immigrants Jan Lesinski and his wife Weronika (Rusin) settled in Easthampton, Massachusetts, in 1909 and worked in the textile mills there for decades. Married in 1922, the couple raised a son and daughter in their home on Franklin Street. Weronika Lesinski died in Northampton in 1961, her husband following twelve years later.

The Lesinski and Rusin family collection reflect the lives of an average working-class Polish family from Easthampton, Mass., during the early twentieth century. Numerous family photographs document important occasions for the families, such as baptisms, first communions, and weddings, and the photographic postcards and commercial postcards document their relationships, interests, and travel.

Gift of Mary Ryan, June 1990
Language(s): Polish
Subjects
  • Lesinski family
  • Polish Americans--Massachusetts--Easthampton
  • Rusin family
  • Soldiers--Massachusetts--Easthampton--Photographs
  • World War, 1914-1918--Photographs
Types of material
  • Photographs
  • Postcards
  • Scrapbooks

Lyons Family

Lyons Family Correspondence
1859-1895
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 133

Includes letters addressed mostly to Mary Lyons or her brother Frederick D. Lyons about friends and family in Greenfield and Colrain, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa. Topics discussed are sickness, death, accidents, an instance of probable wife abuse, recipes, Greenfield scandals, clothing, quilting, Methodist/Universalist bickering, and Aunt Mary’s investments.

Subjects
  • Abused wives--United States--History--19th century
  • Clothing and dress--United States--History--19th century
  • Colrain (Mass.)--Biography
  • Colrain (Mass.)--Social life and customs--19th century
  • Cookery--United States--History--19th century
  • Greenfield (Mass.)--Biography
  • Greenfield (Mass.)--Social life and customs--19th century
  • Lyons family
  • Methodist Church--Relations--Universalist Church
  • Methodist Church--United States--History--19th century
  • Quilting--United States--History--19th century
  • Scandals--Massachusetts--Greenfield--History--19th century
  • Universalist churches--Relations--Methodist Church
  • Universalist churches--United States--History--19th century
  • Wife abuse--United States--History--19th century
  • Women--Massachusetts--Colrain--Correspondence
Contributors
  • Lyons, J. L
  • Lyons, Mary
Types of material
  • Letters (Correspondence)
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